8:00-10:00PM, Wednesday, August 4
Union Ballroom - II
Contributed Poster Presenters: Please follow the instructions provided here.
We categorized the Contributed Posters (CP) based on the abstracts. The following themes emerged:
Several posters may lie in more than one category, however for the purposes of organizing this session, we chose what we believed to be the most appropriate category for each poster. Below we have listed the posters by category.
Posters in each category will be located contiguously. A room layout for the Contributed Poster Session indicating the location of each poster will be provided.
Assessment Issues (CP-AI)
The design and validation of the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey
Wendy Adams (
Katherine Perkins (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Abstract: The Colorado
Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS) is a new instrument designed to
measure various facets of student attitudes and beliefs about learning
physics. This instrument extends the
work done by the
Evaluating and Using BEMA (Brief Electricity & Magnetism Assessment)
Lin Ding (
Ruth Chabay (email@example.com)
Bruce Sherwood (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Abstract: BEMA is a comprehensive multiple-choice test designed to assess students' mastery of fundamental concepts in electricity and magnetism after taking the calculus-based introductory E&M course . We will present results of statistical studies that show that BEMA has good reliability, an important measure for evaluating a test, and we will briefly explain the reasons for doing such studies. BEMA has been used in previous comparisons of traditional and reform courses . We plan to use BEMA in further studies in Spring 2004.
Elizabeth Gire (email@example.com
Abstract: Student responses
on the Maryland
A Conceptual Hierarchy of Lunar Phases?
Aaron Hines (
Abstract: According to
cognitive theory, to encourage the development of a scientific underst
Eliciting and Representing Hybrid Mental Models
Dean Zollman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
constructing their underst
Development of an instrument for evaluating anxiety caused by cognitive conflict*
Yeounsoo Kim (
Using a Q-type assessment instrument to study correlation between teacher attitudes and student perceptions of physics laboratories
Yuhfen Lin (
Xueli Zou (
Gordon Aubrecht (email@example.com) , The Ohio State University
Abstract: A modified version of the Laboratory Program Variables Inventory (LPVI), a Q-type instrument originally developed to assess chemistry laboratories, has been used to study the correlation between instructor expectations and student descriptions. Careful study of the correlation among different classes shows that Q-type assessment is an effective tool for describing course types (as reported in a companion poster). Here we examine correlations between instructor expectations and student perceptions among different sections of the same course, as well as differences in student perceptions among the sections taught by the same instructor. This Q-type assessment tool may be used to diagnose problems in curriculum development and instructor education.
Conceptual Change in College Students’ Underst
Abstract: Researchers now know that college students enter the introductory astronomy classroom with pre-existing mental models of lunar phases. If rooted deeply enough alternate mental models may actually impair an individual’s ability to learn a particular concept. To teach the subject successfully, instructors need to encourage conceptual change. To aid instructors in assessing individuals’ mental models of lunar phases, the Lunar Phases Concept Inventory (LPCI) was developed. This twenty-item multiple-choice inventory was designed to advantage of the innovative model analysis theory. By using this theory in combination with the LPCI, an instructor can determine the probabilities of their class utilizing different mental models, as well as how consistently said mental models are utilized. To assess conceptual change, an instructor can use the LPCI to assess student’s mental models both before and after instruction. As an example of this technique, analysis of pre- and post-test LPCI results will be reported.
Student “Splits” Between Intuition and Scientist Answers*
Timothy McCaskey (
Abstract: Previous work
showed that, on FCI items, students indicate that the answer they “really
believe” often differs from the answer they think a scientist would give
. However, interviews revealed that
these “splits” could not be cleanly interpreted: sometimes they corresponded to a student’s
intuition, sometimes not . For this
reason, and because intuition splits are epistemologically interesting in their
own right, we modified the FCI task.
Students now indicate their 'scientist answer' and the answer that
“makes the most intuitive sense” to them.
New interviews established that the modified task suffers from fewer
interpretive difficulties. In addition,
evidence suggests that students reconcile concepts like
to Investigate Student Underst
Jeffrey Morgan (
interviews on quantum tunneling with undergraduate physics majors have
revealed that a significant percentage of students (a) believe energy is lost
in tunneling and (b) have difficulty sketching and interpreting the wave
function in the region of a potential barrier, corroborating the findings of
Bao and others. We have used these
results to construct a survey designed to probe student conceptual underst
Correlating student attitudes with student learning using the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey
Katherine Perkins (
Wendy Adams (Wendy.Adams@colorado.edu)
Abstract: A number of instruments have been designed to probe the “hidden curriculum”, examining the variety of attitudes, beliefs, expectations, and epistemological frames taught in our introductory physics courses. Using a newly developed instrument – the CLASS – we examine the relationship among students’ attitudes and beliefs, their shifts over the course of a semester, and other educational outcomes, such as conceptual learning and student retention. We report results from surveys of 2400 students in a variety of courses, including several designed to promote favorable student attitudes. We find positive correlations between particular student attitudes and conceptual learning gains, and between student retention and favorable attitudes and beliefs in select categories. We also note the influence of teaching practices on student attitudes.
Paul Reilly (
Abstract: We are investigating student difficulties and designing tutorials related to Gauss' law in introductory calculus-based courses. Our investigation includes interviews with individual students, development and administration of free-response pre-/post-tests, and development of a conceptual multiple-choice test. Results of our investigation will be discussed.
From students’ perspectives: A Q-type assessment instrument*
Xueli Zou (
Abstract: A Q-type
instrument, the Laboratory Program Variables Inventory (LPVI)**, has been used
to assess three possible different introductory physics laboratories: an
investigative science learning laboratory at California State University, Chico
Difficulties & Misconceptions (CP-DM)
Rate of Change and Electric Potential
Rhett Allain (
Robert Beichner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Abstract: This project aims
to investigate a possible underlying cause to student difficulties relating
change of electric potential to electric field.
A likely source of difficulties is the lack of students' underst
Diminishing Forces – Implications of a Misconception
Abstract: Evidence is presented to suggest a misconception concerning motion of an object when acted upon by a force which decreases with distance. This evidence was collected during interviews of several above average calculus-based physics students. The students stated that the motion of an object would slow, even stop, if the force on decreased based upon its distance such as Coulomb’s Law. This may not be surprising until viewed it in the light that many of these students didn’t reveal this impetus or Aristotelian notion except with diminishing forces.
Abstract: Students often confuse wave amplitude and intensity. They state that they see a wave peak at points of maximum interference. In order to better assess this confusion, a waves questionnaire was given to 259 students during the 3rd quarter introductory calculus-based physics class at the Ohio State University just after all lecture instruction regarding wave interference and diffraction had been completed. Although further study will be necessary to understand many of the student responses, several misconceptions were evident from the results. Among these are that a large number of students believe that interference is purely destructive interference; many think that the eye can distinguish wave peaks and troughs; and most students think the wave peaks are points of highest intensity. The detailed findings from the questionnaire will be reported in this poster.
Student difficulties with graphical representation of vector products: crossing and dotting beyond t’s and i’s*
Warren Christensen (
Ngoc-Loan Nguyen (email@example.com)
David Meltzer (
Abstract: Recent research
[1-3] has shown that students in introductory physics courses (both algebra-
and calculus-based) have significant difficulty with the graphical
representation of vectors. In order to
understand concepts such as work, torque, and magnetic force on a charged
particle, students must have a coherent underst
Identifying student concepts of “gravity”
E. Feeley (
Abstract: We have investigated student concepts of “gravity” among non-science majors, pre-service K-12 teachers, and high school students. Both interview and survey questions were developed or modified from those in the literature [1, 2, 3]. Students were questioned on their reasoning about the behavior of objects on the surface of a planetary body (e.g., the Earth or the moon) and the causes of this behavior. Results will be presented indicating that the survey successfully elicited student difficulties with various aspects of gravity, including the tendency to attribute gravity to the presence of an atmosphere, and to dissociate the concepts of gravity and weight.
Michael Loverude (
Abstract: We have been
investigating student underst
Katherine Menchen (
Abstract: Our ongoing
research involves exploring student underst
in student underst
Cristian Raduta (
Gordon Aubrecht (
Abstract: We administered a
survey on electricity and magnetism to two populations of students: one from
General Interest (CP-GI)
Research: A Primer for
Richard Hake (
Abstract: Some prominent
education researchers now work in Pasteur’s interdisciplinary, use-inspired,
basic-research quadrant doing what they call 'Design-Based Research' (DBR).
After quoting descriptions of DBR by a few of its advocates, I discuss the
insularity that has hidden DBR’s from PER’s
and PER’s from DBR’s. I then attempt to make the case that: (a) some PER
is also DBR; (b) randomized control trials (RCT’s) - not generally a part of
DBR - are not the 'gold standard' of educational research, as hailed by the
U.S. Dept. of Education; (c) DBR might develop into a force sufficient to
accelerate even the ponderous educational system: (d) the pre/post test
movement, generally ignored by the education community, could be a major
component of that reforming force; and (e) non-classical analyses of tests
heretofore used primarily for pre/post testing might assist the underst
Are physics graduate students’ beliefs about teaching and learning consonant?
Yuhfen Lin (
Gordon Aubrecht (firstname.lastname@example.org) , The Ohio State University
Abstract: Most physics graduate
students teach as recitation or lab instructors in introductory physics courses
at the same time they take graduate level courses. These students may or may
not apply the same standards they expect in the courses they take to their own
classes. We investigate whether they apply similar or distinct standards to
these courses. This talk focuses on aspects of both teaching of and learning by
The Journal of Research in Science Teaching
Abstract: As of January 2005, the Journal of Research in Science Teaching and Learning (JRST) will be under new editorship. The new editors would particularly like to invite the discipline-based education research community to submit articles for publication in JRST. Although the journal is read by both researchers and practitioners, the focus is on research progress rather than research-to-practice. Studies by the American Educational Research Journal and the Educational Researcher for the American Educational Research Association identified JRST as one of the top research journals in science education. Many types of scholarly manuscripts about research on science teaching and learning are within JRST's domain, including but not limited to: investigations, employing experimental, qualitative, ethnographic, historical, survey, philosophical, or case study research approaches; position papers; policy perspectives; and critical reviews of the literature. After January, all submissions and correspondence will be electronic, though the journal will continue to be published on paper.
Instructional Practices (CP-IP)
Can inquiry experiences in physics class change students’ preconceptions about teaching?
Gordont Aubrecht (
Abstract: In teaching inquiry classes in physics, we ask students to reflect on their learning in journals. One of the journal questions deals with student expectations of transfer of the inquiry techniques used in our class into their own classrooms when they become teachers themselves. We report on students’ answers to this question over our decade-long experience in running inquiry courses, which gives insight into how much or how little the students think the techniques are worth to themselves as both students and prospective teachers.
Use of a hands-on lab exam to investigate how physics students transfer knowledge from lecture to the laboratory
Duane Deardorff (
Abstract: For the past 4 years, an individual, hands-on lab exam has been administered to our introductory physics students. As advertised to the students in their lab manual, the purpose of this exam is to assess each student's ability to make accurate measurements with typical physics laboratory instruments, analyze and interpret empirical data, apply fundamental physics principles, design simple experiments, evaluate results, analyze measurement errors, and clearly communicate findings. These exams have generated a rich set of data that can be used to help answer a variety of research questions about how students make and analyze measurements. Selected findings from this investigation will focus on students' abilities and difficulties in transferring knowledge from the lecture to the laboratory setting.
Reality Experiments in Introductory
consider laboratories to be a vital part of any introductory course, yet
students consistently rate them as having low value. The Ohio State University (OSU)
Helping preservice teachers implement and assess research-based instruction in K-12 classrooms
S. DeWater (
Donna Messina (email@example.com)
MacKenzie Stetzer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Can Computer Simulations Replace Real Equipment in Undergraduate Laboratories?
Noah Finkelstein (Noah.Finkelstein@colorado.edu)
Katherine Perkins (
Wendy Adams (Wendy.Adams@colorado.edu)
Abstract: This poster examines the effects of substituting computer simulations in place of real laboratory equipment in the second semester of a large-scale introductory physics course. The direct current (DC) circuit laboratory was modified to compare the effects of using computer simulations with the effects of using real light bulbs, meters and wires. Three groups of students, those who used real equipment, those who used computer simulations, and those who had no lab experience, were compared in terms of their mastery of physics concepts and skills with real equipment. Note the complete author list: N. D. Finkelstein, K. K. Perkins, W. Adams, P. Kohl, and N. Podolefsky
Danielle Harlow (
Valerie Otero (Valerie.Otero@colorado.edu)
Abstract: This study
provides evidence to support the claim that prospective elementary teachers can
deepen their underst
Evaluating Options for Combating Post-Exam Syndrome
Kathleen Harper (
Abstract: A previous talk described exam correction assignments to assist students in using midterms as a learning tool.1 Preliminary results suggested that student learning resulted. Some new studies strive to answer several subsequent questions: Does learning result from the nature of the assignment, or from the students simply putting in additional time with the material? Does working additional problems on a topic post-exam impact student learning of the material? Does the way in which instructors present and/or explain the exam-correction steps have an impact on learning? In the primary study, four parallel sections of a large course, after receiving back their graded exams, either did exam corrections, worked problems similar to the exam, or worked problems on new material. All took a follow-up test on the same topics as the initial test. The results from this study, and their implications for the issues described above, will be discussed.
Teaching, Learning and PER: Views from Mainstream Faculty
Charles Henderson (
Melissa Dancy (email@example.com)
evidence suggests that findings of educational research and resulting curricula
are, at best, only marginally incorporated into introductory physics courses.
We are working on a long-term project to provide the PER community with
information that will facilitate the incorporation of research-based strategies
and materials into mainstream physics instruction. In this talk, we will report
on the pilot phase of this project which involved interviews with well
respected and thoughtful senior
Electrostatic & Magnetism TIPERs*
Curtis Hieggelke (
David Maloney (
Thomas O'Kuma (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Abstract: This paper will
illustrate materials from a collection of new instructional materials for the
topics and concepts in electrostatics and magnetism. These materials can be
used as classroom materials, quizzes or exam questions, or homework. These
materials employ various TIPER (Tasks Inspired by
Schema Conceptual Tool To Promote Student Underst
Brant Hinrichs (
Abstract: The Modeling
Instruction program at
Format, Student Choice, and Problem Solving in
Noah Finkelstein (
Abstract: Student problem-solving ability appears to be tied to the representational format of the problem (mathematical, pictorial, graphical, verbal). In a study of a 367-student algebra-based physics class, we examine student problem solving ability on quizzes involving four different representational formats, with problems as close to isomorphic as possible. In addition, we examine students’ capacity for representational self-assessment by giving follow-up quizzes in which they can choose between various problem formats, and look for factors that may influence their ability or choices. As a control, part of the class was assigned a follow-up quiz with a random format, allowing a comparison with the group provided with a choice. We find that there are statistically significant performance differences between isomorphic problems. We also find that allowing students to choose which representational form they use increases student performance under some circumstances, and reduces it in others.
In class polling: An instant feedback of students learning mode
Pengfei Li (
Neville Reay (email@example.com) , The Ohio State University
Abstract: At The Ohio State University, Voting Machine (VM), an in-class polling system was used as an effective lecture instrument to teach students in an introductory electromagnetism class. A sequence of three questions (basic, intensive, extensive) was chosen as a useful tool to trigger the student into learning mode. In this talk, we will discuss the methods and the results of our numerical analysis and examples of student behavior patterns extracted from such analysis.
Attitudes of General Science Students Towards Learning Science and the Nature of Science
Shabbir Mian (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Vasilis Pagonis (email@example.com)
Abstract: We investigated
general science students’ attitudes regarding the acquisition of scientific
knowledge and the nature of science itself, by administering a 32-item survey
combining and exp
Equity Variations in a Large Active-Learning Introductory
Mark McKinnon (
Abstract: At the University of California at Davis, the introductory physics course for life science majors has been employing an active-learning approach since 1996. Currently, more than 1400 students begin this course each year. One of the surprising developments has been the significant improvement in gender equity over the traditional physics sequence. We are now focusing more attention on utilizing student performance to quantitatively explore a broad range of issues related to active-learning approaches and the role that they play in gender equity. In class, small groups of five to six students team to complete activities designed to elicit discussion about physical concepts. As the activities were annually modified, opinions differ on the effectiveness of each variation. I used two variations of laboratory activities, one less formulaic than the other. I will present findings of the relative gender equity as measured by quiz performance of these variations.
Transfer of Teaching: an Experiment of Opportunity
A. Morse (
Abstract: To what extent
can an experienced teacher’s interactive engagement physics curriculum,
developed over many years, be taken over by a teacher with only a few year’s
experience? A sabbatical leave for the first author provided an opportunity to
try the experiment. The first author gave course materials and daily plan book
used for introductory physics and AP
Helping students learn to design experiments in a large-enrollment introductory laboratory course*
Sahana Murthy (
No single cause: learning gains, student attitudes, and the impacts of multiple effective reforms in a large lecture course.
Steven Pollock (
Abstract: We examine the effects of, and interplay among, several proven research-based reforms implemented in an introductory large enrollment (500+) calculus based physics course. These interventions included Peer Instruction with student response system in lecture, Tutorials with trained undergraduate learning assistants in recitations, and personalized computer assignments. We took extensive survey data throughout the semester along with validated pre/post content- and attitude-surveys, and long answer pre/post content questions designed to assess learning gains and near transfer, to investigate complementary effects of these multiple reforms, and to begin to understand which features are necessary and effective for high fidelity replication. Our median normalized gain was 0.67 on the FCI , 0.76 on the FMCE, yet we find we cannot uniquely associate these gains with any individual (isolated) course components. We see no decline in self-reported student attitudes, but do find that attitudes and attitude shifts both correlate positively with conceptual learning gains.
Teacher and Curriculum Factors that Influence Middle School Students' Sense-Making Discussions of Force/Motion
Abstract: This study investigated small-group discussions in an inquiry-based middle school science classroom. The purpose of the study was to determine the teacher and curriculum factors that provide support (or not) for students' sense-making discussions. To do this, two student groups were videotaped as they participated in force/motion activities. Analysis revealed that sense-making discussion was influenced by teacher adherence (or not) to the curriculum philosophy, activity content, teacher and curricular guidance for the continuing evolution of student ideas, and other teacher and curriculum factors.
The Role of Evaluation Abilities in Student Learning & Performance
Aaron Warren (
Alan Van Heuvelen (Alanvan@physics.rutgers.edu) , Rutgers University
Abstract: This poster presents research which is part of a larger initiative by the Rutgers University PAER group to help students develop scientific thinking abilities. In particular, we focus on developing abilities which are necessary for students to critically evaluate information. Such information can include proposed problem solutions, conceptual statements, experiment designs, and experiment reports. To develop and assess evaluative strategies among students, we are creating and testing a wide range of activities. This poster presents some examples of these activities, outlines several types of evaluative strategies students can use, and examines some preliminary results regarding the role various evaluative strategies play in student learning and performance.
Participation in Normative Behaviors in a
Benjamin Williams (
Modeling Student Thinking (CP-MT)
Generated Analogies as Assertions of Categorization
Leslie Atkins (firstname.lastname@example.org) , University of Maryland
Abstract: One could
consider the appropriate use of analogy to be the epitome of transfer; indeed,
research in transfer frequently concerns whether or not an analogy is mapped
onto the desired target (e.g., Gick and Holyoak, 1980). Underst
Active versus passive learning
Florin Bocaneala (
Abstract: Almost everybody agrees that the students who are actively involved in structuring their study environment, who investigate their study matter by selecting and formulating their own questions, perform better. Is this circumstantial correlation? What is the dynamics behind increased performance and active involvement in learning? In order to address this questions, the authors present herein a theoretical model that allows the comparison between the active and passive learning styles.
Concerning Scientific Discourse about Heat
David Brookes (
Alan Van Heuvelen , Rutgers University
Abstract: We aim to examine communication in physics from a linguistic perspective and suggest a theoretical viewpoint which may enable us to explain and understand many physics students’ alternative conceptions. We present evidence, in the context of the concept of heat, that physicists seem to speak and write about physical systems with a set of one or more systematic metaphors. These metaphors are well understood in their community. We argue that physics students appear to be prone to misinterpreting and overextending the same metaphors and that these misinterpretations exhibit themselves as students’ alternative conceptions or misconceptions. A detailed analysis of physicists’ discourse about heat will be used to present evidence of a possible connection between students’ alternative conceptions and the possibility that they are misinterpreting the metaphorical language that they read and hear.
Introductory College Students’ Explanations of Friction and Related Phenomena at the Microscopic Level
Abstract: Introductory college physics students’ explanations of friction and lubrication were investigated by conducting semi-structured clinical interviews. Interview questions were constructed in a way that students were led to explain phenomena that they observed at the atomic level. Analysis of data showed that students were able to come up with their own explanations of what is happening at the atomic scale when surfaces come into contact, although these explanations are not necessarily scientifically correct. It was apparent that students tended to explain phenomena at the atomic level by using attributes of macroscopic objects (e.g. by visualizing atoms as balls students tended to associate attributes of real balls to that of atoms). Results of the study will serve as a basis to design teaching interviews to help students construct more scientifically correct microscopic models of friction and lubrication.
Evidence of Transfer in Interview Data
Paula Engelhardt (email@example.com) , Kansas State University
Abstract: Transfer is the
ability to utilize what one has learned previously in new situations. This
paper will explore evidence of transfer by one student during the course of a
single interview. The transcript will be
analyzed from two perspectives: the actor-oriented model of transfer developed
by Joanne Lobato and the Kansas State University
What you Preach: Explicitly Articulated Interactions for Transfer of Concepts
Cathy Ezrailson (
Abstract: This study used
both quantitative and qualitative methods to gain an underst
Transfer between Paired Problems
Abstract: Student reasoning was originally thought to be fairly stable. It has now become clear that students’ ideas are not nearly as stable as originally thought. The question now has become just how unstable are students’ ideas and what things can influence these ideas. This paper will cover a small portion of a larger study designed to address this question. An interview over basic mechanics questions will be used to show how the questions themselves influence the student’s answer to the questions. Based on this transcript and other data collected during the study, students’ ideas appear to be influenced not only by their experiences and the context presented in the question, but also by the context of the question. This analysis was done based on a new model of transfer called the actor-oriented transfer model developed by Joanne Lobato. This new model will also be discussed in the paper.
Transfer: the advantage of simple symbols
Andrew Heckler (
Jennifer Kaminski (firstname.lastname@example.org) , The Ohio State University
Vladimir Sloutsky (VSloutsky@hec.ohio-state.edu) , The Ohio State University
Abstract: One of the goals of successful learning is transfer, or the ability to apply acquired knowledge outside the learning situation. However, spontaneous transfer is notoriously difficult to achieve even for relatively simple knowledge. One important issue is whether it is better to learn concrete or abstract knowledge first. This research argues that transfer of learning across domains can be facilitated when knowledge is expressed in an abstract, generic form. In two experiments, undergraduate students learned two isomorphic domains, based on the same algebraic group. The 'math' domain was expressed in a more abstract, generic form, whereas the 'science' domain was expressed in a more concrete form. In both experiments, transfer from more abstract to more concrete was greater than the reverse. In addition, Experiment 2 indicated that the use of concrete symbols may hinder learning. This research supports the point of view that learning mathematics facilitates learning science. It argues that while there may be learning benefits in using concrete materials for instruction, the learning costs are substantial, thus suggesting the need for a radical rethinking of how mathematics and science is taught.
Sample Exams and Transfer in Introductory Mechanics
Carol Koleci (
Abstract: We report on a
continuing study at Worcester Polytechnic Institute concerning the use of
sample exams to promote transfer in introductory mechanics. Do sample exam problems have to be easier or
more difficult than the actual exam questions in order for students to
demonstrate improved conceptual underst
Alternative conceptions, memory, & mental model in physics education
Gyoungho Lee (
Abstract: There are two somewhat independent research traditions, which converge to suggest a form of knowledge representation: alternative conceptions and mental model. However we have little literature that explains what they are different from each other and from memory. This study tried to describe theoretical issues with some thoughts about how cognitive science and science education approaches can be best synthesized in order to approach these questions.
Investigating Students' Knowledge of Particle Structure of Matter in Different Cultures
Cui Lili (email@example.com) , Kansas State University
Dean Zollman (firstname.lastname@example.org) , Kansas State University
Abstract: This study is in
the early stages of an investigation of students’ models of the structure of
matter. Initially, we will compare results for students in three different
countries. We will administer a questionnaire, developed by Silke
Melkelskis-Seifert in Germany, which includes Likert scale and open-ended
questions. This questionnaire focuses on underst
Student Descriptions of Refraction and Optical Fibers
Fran Mateycik (
DJ Wagner (
Sybillyn Jennings (email@example.com) , Sage College
Abstract: This paper
reports our research into how students describe and think about optical fibers
and the physical phenomena of refraction and total internal reflection (TIR)
basic to their operation. The study was
conducted as part of the improvement and expansion of web-based materials for
an innovative Rensselaer introductory physics course  which examines the
physics underlying information technology.
As we developed the prototype module, we examined students' underst
of Learning from Trigonometry to
Darryl Ozimek (firstname.lastname@example.org) , Kansas State University
Paula V. Engelhardt (email@example.com) , Kansas State University
Abstract: We investigated students’ learning, retention, and transfer from a trigonometry course to an algebra–based physics course. A multiple–choice survey was administered as a pre–instruction and post–instruction assessment. The survey consisted of questions pairs, abstract (mathematics) and conceptual (physics) questions at three hierarchical levels of thinking. Three semi–structured interviews used graduated–prompting to determine the ease at which students transfer what they have learned from mathematics (abstract) questions to similar physics (contextual) questions. Results indicate that students’ thinking of trigonometric concepts occurs at different levels. Concepts at lower levels are retained and transferred to a greater degree than higher level concepts. Transfer was assessed from the perspectives of both the traditional as well as the contemporary models of transfer. This study has implications for instruction of both trigonometry and physics as well as suggestions for improving transfer of learning from one area to another.
Scaffolding of Abstract Ideas in
Noah Podolefsky (
Wendy Adams (
Noah Finkelstein (
commonly use analogies to ground their underst
Learning and knowledge transfer between physics problems
David Pritchard (
Elsa-Sofia Morote , Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Rasil Warnakulasooriya , Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstract: We compare two equally skilled groups who solve pairs of tutorial and related problems in introductory mechanics at MIT using the web-based tutor, myCyberTutor. The two groups solve the problems in reverse order with respect to each other. The group that solves the tutorials first experiences twice as large a reduction in difficulty per unit of time spent on the tutorial problem as the other group experiences on the tutorial due to solving the related problem first. The time for completion graphs provides confirmatory analysis-preparatory problems reduce the time necessary to solve the following problem. Further evidence is obtained by analyzing the use of hints between the two related problems. The group which solves a problem in a given problem-pair first requests more hints than the group which solves it second and benefits from these hints in answering the second problem in the pair. We conclude that learning and knowledge transfer is better facilitated through a tutorial-first approach than by a problem-first approach. We find evidence of schema acquisition and support the cognitive theory of feedback as a form of information that helps students in physics learning.
Multiple Representations: A Quantitative Study on Students Use of Free-Body Diagrams in Large Lecture Classes.*
David Rosengrant (
Alan Van Heuvelen (firstname.lastname@example.org) , Rutgers University
Abstract: The Rutgers PAER
group is working to help students develop various scientific abilities. One of the abilities is to create, understand
and learn to use for a qualitative reasoning and problem solving different
representations of physical processes such as pictorial representations, motion
diagrams, free body diagrams, and energy bar charts.
Student Learning of Quantum Mechanics
Abstract: Quantum physics
is an abstract topic that not only deals with the inaccessible venues and
concepts of the microscopic world, but also requires a certain degree of
mathematical skill. In this study, we
aim to determine the most important skills and concepts that can enhance
students’ performance in a quantum mechanics class. We would like to know, for example, if a
relationship exists between particular math skills and underst
Structure of Intermediate Mechanics Students'
C Sayre (
C Wittmann (
Abstract: As part of ongoing research into cognitive processes and student thought, we investigate the structure of physics and mathematics intuitions in intermediate mechanics students. Students compared various damped and undamped harmonic motions using both differential equations and verbal descriptions of physical systems. We present evidence from a reformed sophomore-level mechanics class which contains both tutorial  and lecture components. Preliminary data suggest that mathematics and physics intuitions, even in intermediate students, are poorly linked and occasionally lead to conflicting predictions.
Students’ conceptions about probability in a double-slit experiment for electrons and potential well problems
Pornrat Wattanakasiwich (
Kenneth Krane (email@example.com) , Oregon State University
What changes occur during conceptual change?
Michael Wittmann (
Abstract: In their 1998 paper, diSessa & Sherin  answer the question 'what changes in conceptual change?' by introducing the idea of coordination classes. These consist of readout strategies for gathering information about a situation and causal nets of activated resources that generate thinking in a situation. Several types of conceptual change have been described in the literature (e.g., incremental, wholesale, cascade, dual construction ). All can be described using coordination classes. In this poster, I illustrate each form of conceptual change schematically and suggest other possibile forms of conceptual change that may play a role in student learning of physics.
Edit Yerushalmi (
Bat Sheva Eylon (firstname.lastname@example.org) , Weizmann Institute
Rachel Seggev (email@example.com) , Weizmann Institute
Abstract: Transfer is a central goal for problem solving, though it spans from transferring procedures within a finite set of similar “end of chapter problems” to developing independent learning skills. Students' perceptions regarding knowledge and learning are an important factor in achieving transfer goals. Teachers that renew their instruction methods to achieve these goals have to become more attentive to such students' perceptions. We conducted a cooperative inquiry workshop to support teachers that renew their instruction to develop students' independent learning skills in physics problems solving. In this paper, we describe how teachers raise issues related to students’ perceptions of knowledge and learning, as well as the development of a questionnaire examining these issues, designed by both the teachers and the researchers. We present findings from the analysis of the questionnaire and look at how the teachers’ thinking was reformulated as a result of the process to influence their instruction.
Edward Grillo , Weizmann Institute
Abstract: In this paper we explore students’ pre-instruction knowledge of conceptual and procedural pieces of knowledge that we believe are prerequisite to one’s ability to generate correct light ray diagrams. We do so within the domain of image formation by a plane mirror. In addition, we follow students as they transition between various states of understanding using “dynamic assessment” techniques. That is, we probe student understanding as it develops- throughout instruction-rather than only pre- and post-instruction. The research population is students in an algebra-based, introductory physics course at a medium-sized, urban, public university.
Technology in Research & Teaching (CP-TR)
A Web-based Tool for the Analysis of Concept Inventory Data
Joseph Beuckman (
Abstract: Computing technology now makes possible previously impractical methods of analyzing student assessment data beyond the traditional 'total average score' approach. Our new, web-based tool will allow researchers in any location to upload their data and quickly download a complete analysis report. Analyses eventually included with this tool will be basic test statistics, Model Analysis Theory results, concept structure analysis, Traditional Item Analysis, Concentration Item Analysis, pre and post test comparison, including the calculations of gains, normalized change and effect size. The tool currently analyzes data from the Lunar Phases Concept Inventory (LPCI). It will be expanded to analyze data from other commonly utilized concept inventories in the PER community and, eventually, from user-designed and uploaded conceptual domains and inventories. In this poster, we will discuss the development of this analysis tool, as well as present our results to date. Instructors and researchers are encouraged to use the latest version of the analysis tool via our website.
Feedback with web-based homework and PADs
Scott Bonham (
Computerized interactive problem-solving coaches
Leon Hsu (
Abstract: Computers can play an important role in physics instruction by coaching students to develop good problem-solving skills. Building on previous research on the teaching of problem solving and on computer-student interactions, we are designing computer tutorials that provide students with guided practice in solving problems. We present a prototype of a tutorial along with students’ reactions to it and discuss some preliminary results regarding the transfer of problem-solving skills from the computer tutorials to pencil-and-paper.
Student difficulties with computer modeling: using protocol data to revise instruction
Matthew Kohlmyer (
Ruth Chabay (firstname.lastname@example.org) , North Carolina State University
Bruce Sherwood (email@example.com) , North Carolina State University
Abstract: Computer modeling, an important skill in modern physics research, is emphasized by the Matter & Interactions (1) introductory physics curriculum. Students in this curriculum write computer programs that model a wide variety of physical systems using an iterative application of fundamental physics principles. In order for students to be able to do this successfully, instructors must know the difficulties students have in learning computer modeling. Based on results from a think-aloud protocol study in Spring 2003 at NC State, instructional materials were designed and implemented at the beginning of the Fall 2003 semester. A second think-aloud protocol was then conducted to search for qualitative differences and similarities in students' difficulties and reasoning processes while engaged in computer modeling. Results of this study and how they affect the future instructional revision cycle for Matter & Interactions will be presented.
Toward an effective use of voting machines in physics lectures
Neville Reay (firstname.lastname@example.org) , The Ohio State University
Pengfei Li (email@example.com) , The Ohio State University
Rasil Warnakulasooriya (rasil@MIT.EDU) , Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstract: “Voting Machines” (VM) is a generic name for wireless-keypad in-class polling systems used by students to answer multiple-choice questions during lectures. Use of VM with carefully designed sequences of multiple-choice questions and instantaneous voting summaries improved classroom dynamics and rapidly guided students through a step-by-step process of assimilating concepts in the electricity and magnetism quarter of a year-long beginning physics course. Raw and analyzed results, class surveys and sample question sequences will be presented for two lecture sections, one in which students voted in groups and the other in which they voted as individuals
of Student Use of an Online Message Board in an Introductory
Wenjuan Song (
Taha Mzoughi (firstname.lastname@example.org) , Mississippi State University
Anastasia Elder (email@example.com) , Mississippi State University
Abstract: We investigated the use of an online message board by students in an Introductory Calculus-based physics course. The paper will describe the student population, the format of the course taught, the type of messages posted by the students and the message board used. The study includes correlational analysis between the number of the various kinds of messages posted by the students, and the student performance in homework, tests and overall course grade. Further data provides insight on student beliefs about the use of message board.
Electronic Interviews to Explore Student Underst
DJ Wagner (
Fran Mateycik (
Sybillyn Jennings (firstname.lastname@example.org) , Sage College
Abstract: This paper
reports on methods used to probe student underst
Time for completion curves for physics problems
Rasil Warnakulasooriya (
David Pritchard , Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstract: Using myCyberTutor, a web-based homework tutor, we study how long it takes students to complete a given physics problem completely and correctly. We identify three major groups of students in completing a given problem. The students who were able to solve the problem quickly (< 2.5 min), we hypothesize are able to solve it through some insight or having worked it out previously. The major group of students who completes the problem (in 2.5 min to 2 hours) often uses hints and feedback. The third group takes over several hours, generally days. We hypothesize that they obtain help outside myCyberTutor. The middle part of the graphs (typically 2 min to 2 hours) of the fraction of students completing a given problem as a function of logarithmic time yields sigmoid curves as is often seen in the psychology literature. The sigmoid shape occurs only for problems containing hints. The shape for end-of-chapter problems that do not contain any hints tends to be linear with more students falling into the first (quick) and third (late) regions. Generally only about 45% of the students finish within 2 min to 2 hours. Certain best-fit functions (within 2 min to 2 hours) seem to be a feature of the problem regardless of whether that problem is done before or after a related problem. The group that does a problem second having solved a related problem first has an advantage in time over the group that solves the same problem first in most related problem-pairs. This difference is seen as measured by the shift in peaks of the gradient curves. The advantage (reduction) in median time to solution is as high as 35% with an average of about 12%. This shows evidence of learning from the first problem.
PERC 2004 Organizing Committee
|N. Sanjay Rebello|
|Department of Physics|
|116 Cardwell Hall|
|Kansas State University|
|Manhattan, KS 66506-2601|
|(785) 532-1539 office||(785) 532-6806 fax|
|Rachel E. Scherr|
|Department of Physics|
|University of Maryland|
|082 Regents Drive|
|College Park, MD 20742-4111|
|(301) 405-6179 office||(301) 314-9531 fax|
|Michael C. Wittmann|
|Department of Physics & Astronomy|
|5709 Bennett Hall|
|University of Maine|
|Orono, ME 04469-5709|
|(207) 581-1237 office||(207) 581-3410 fax|